It’s been said that some of our best ideas come to us while in the shower, but for others, (in the case of our latest Urban Beardsman), they can occur while out-and-about partying. Mark Andrews knows a thing or two about having a good time, but definitely works harder than he plays. After indulging in a fair share of nightlife crawls, he thought of a niche opportunity that he and long time friend Joel Aristobil-Adele wanted to fill. Being frustrated with tobacco in one pocket, plastic cards, phone, and loose bills disheveled in the other, they knew there had to be a better way to stay equipped for the night—hence, the Sydney based men’s accessories brand Nuvo was born.
Andrews’ effortlessly cool style appears via Facetime, and instantly I’m greeted by a friendly Australian accent, “hey mate, how are you?” We begin to chat about his various career experiences landing him to where he’s at today. “I’ve worked in several sales business and development positions, along with HR and recruiting roles, but truthfully it’s always been my dream to work for myself. Whether it was hustling the potpourri I made out of stolen flowers as a kid, or selling poorly designed t-shirts, I’ve always wanted to create my own business—and it’s finally coming together,” Andrews says.
In the spirit of designing by subtraction, the Nuvo Collective duo sought out ways to craft a wallet that would simplify their cluttered pockets while streamlining both functionality and style. Drawing inspiration from a wave of wooden sunglasses recently seen gaining rapid popularity, the two friends reworked their own interpretation of the traditional wallet. “We came out with this idea for a bamboo wallet, and the original design I made out of my garage with a jigsaw. After realizing bamboo wasn’t a rigid enough material, we continued to refine it into a beechwood variation.”
Nuvo launched their line last November and in their first week impressively sold over two hundred units. Since their launch date they can now be found carried in over seven retailers in Australia, with plans to expand out everywhere from New Zealand and Indonesia, to Europe and here in the US.
Nuvo’s success not only comes from meeting the need to simply store one’s can’t-leave-home-withouts, but also exudes attention to detail from the inside out.The packaging is designed with the same gorgeous wood that easily doubles as a storage/jewelry box. “Aside from hearing how easy the wallets are to use, some of the most amazing comments we receive are about the wooden box packaging it comes in and how it functions for great odds and ends storage. We’ve really focused on the entire experience, using a similar medium for the outer packaging in how we thread it all together with the product,” shares Andrews.
Although Nuvo’s success is proven through client feedback and metrics, no success story is complete without a few hurdles. Andrews admits one as overcoming being in business with his close friend, revealing, “we’ve been the best of friends for the longest time, and occasionaly, the business can definitely been a strain on the friendship—learning each other’s work style when it comes to meeting deadlines and so forth have created a few rough spots for us to work through, but we always find middle ground.“
When it comes to cultivating a small business from the ground up, this isn’t Andrews’s first rodeo. He’s attempted other ventures in the past, but explains that in order to be successful, you have to be willing to take risks. “I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong way to do things. You have to be able to learn by doing—from others, and yourself—and not be afraid to learn from your experiences along the way. You’ll always have doubters telling you to take the safe route, but for me, being my own boss (as opposed to making someone else richer) is what continues to get me up at 4am everyday.”
Andrews keeps an insanely busy schedule, and his typical day usually starts around 3:30 – 4 a.m. “I love getting up that early—I enjoy the pace of no one calling or emailing. Plus, I can put on my headphones and work for a couple of hours in peace. Usually I go to the gym first, shower, and start work by 6am. Though, I have a few other side-projects I’m juggling so I spend about 50% on those ventures, and the other 50% on Nuvo—product development, working through photo shoots etc. I typically get about four-to-five hours of sleep, (thanks to coffee during the day), but I’ve learned pretty quickly that I’ll get into trouble if I work too much and not spend quality time with my girlfriend. I’m very mindful to not neglect my relationship as well.”
With his intense schedule, Andrews balances some things out by keeping things low maintenance with his look. Admitting he initially grew his beard out to save a bit of time; it became an issue with an ex-girlfriend—enough of a heated topic to cause the relationship to end. “I started growing it longer after that—I want the yeard, (though I trimmed it a bit recently so I guess it doesn’t really count), but I’m planning to keep growing it. I’ve always had a prim and proper job in the past where I couldn’t grow it as long, but now I don’t have to worry about it. I also haven’t cut my hair since 2012, so it’s very much me enjoying the freedom to do my own thing, which is a really cool feeling.”
Andrews has a lot more in store for Nuvo, but to avoid a spoiler, we’ll just say you can expect them to branch out into a wider assortment of product. “We eventually want to be seen as a design agency that happens to make wallets, and move with more limited edition products. Some big ticket items are in the works with a few apparel ideas as well,” says Andrews.
When Andrews does have free time, he’s still able to stay true to his roots and attend several live shows a month to support his musician friends that play in bands. After all, without mixing in a dose of nightlife and music, how else would his brilliant ideas continue to unfold? Pushing the boundaries on what a “normal” schedule looks like and how to take charge of your own personal freedom; Andrew’s exemplifies that if you pursue a dream full-force, you can leave your mark without missing a beat.